The first thing that I thought after I read about the Ryan Lochte Incident in Brazil during the Olympics probably wasn’t what most Americans were thinking (although that was probably my second reaction). What popped into my mind first was, “Ugh, I feel sorry for the consular officers in Rio.” Because I’ve seen enough mess go down in the last 18 years that I know it sucks to have any AmCit in trouble, but when it’s a public figure or other celebrity, it’s even more excruciating with respect to time invested, red tape to unstick, and embarrassment. I mean seriously, dude – do you realize that the length of text on your Wikipedia page discussing your false police report is longer than the text discussing your Olympic success at Rio 2016?
Later on, I got to thinking, and I wondered: Did Ryan Lochte ever even apologize? Did he realize the impact he had on other people’s lives? Not just the direct impact of the people involved in the incident, but the ones who were left behind to deal with the ramifications of his behavior, even after he was long gone and the Olympic torch had dimmed? Probably not. After all, it’s hardly on anyone’s radar until they need help abroad and turn to “lawyers, guns, and money” and the consular officers step in. So why would it be on the radar of someone who had other people who dealt with the “other people”. It wouldn’t.
Still, if Ryan Lochte deigned to write a letter, it really should read something like this:
Ryan Lochte, U.S. Swimmer, Lane 3, U.S. Swimming Training Center
August 20, 2016
The Consular Chief, American Consulate General Rio de Janiero, Av. Pres. Wilson, 147, Centro, Rio de Janeiro, 20030-020, Brazil
Dear Sir or Madam,
Please accept my most sincere apologies for the incident that happened in Rio on August 14, 2016. My teammates and I had been out drinking, and while that in an of itself isn’t a problem, some of us had been drinking a bit too much, and our judgment was impaired.
Because of that, we made some bad choices. I truly am embarrassed at my actions and am grateful to you and your staff for your assistance in helping clear up this matter.
Oh, fuck it. That’s what my agent and PR dude is telling me to say.
Here’s what I should be saying to you:
I’m a moron. I’m 32 years old, and I really should not have been drinking like a 14-year-old who laid waste to his parent’s liquor cabinet. Moreover, I should not have run off like a coward, leaving my less-famous buddies behind to take the public embarrassment and the heat of having to sit with you and your staff for hours while trying to get them to tell you the whole story. I’m sure you had more than one very painful conversation with the police, probably several, as you worked your way up the chain of command, trying and figure out how best to resolve this situation. This would not have occurred if I were not such a self-absorbed ass.
I apologize for adding extra pressure and a headache to a time when you and your staff were already spread thinly enough with the increased workload due to the influx of American citizens and public officials coming through Rio during the Olympic Games. My stupidity kept you at the office even longer than usual, away from your families and your personal lives. While I know you take your work seriously, are dedicated, and are willing to put in the time you know you need to do the job right, you didn’t need to be dealing with my garbage. I know that you and your fellow diplomats keep your noses clean and act appropriately for two, three, or even four-year assignments, and I didn’t even hold it together for a few weeks. I’m an entitled jerk who didn’t think of anyone but himself.
I promise that if I get to the Summer Olympics in 2020, there will be no need for a special session discussing the possibility of Ryan Lochte needing a bailout during an All-Hands Consular Meeting. I also promise that I’ll donate some of the gratis tickets that the swim team gets to the Embassy there with the stipulation that they go to career Foreign Service officers and specialists and their families, and not to political appointees who might be in town or heading things up. I’ll even throw in a meet-and-greet for the families at the end of the games to say thank you.
For you and your staff, however, I can do no such thing as I have already departed Brazil, medals in hand and tail between my legs. Instead, I’ve had several bottles of Johnny Walker Blue bottled individually so that each one is valued at a very acceptable $24.99, and stays within the guidelines of the acceptable gift amount under the government ethics rules. Please enjoy them. I’ll be teetotaling for the foreseeable future.
Sincerely and apologetically,
Ryan Lochte, U.S. Olympic Medalist